Protesters hold signs reading "I am Jewish" in Paris, after deadly anti-Semitic attack
Protesters hold signs reading "I am Jewish" in Paris, after deadly anti-Semitic attack Reuters

A BBC news correspondent has apologized for his "poorly phrased question" during an interview Sunday night at the Paris "million-man march" against terror - comments which were slammed as anti-Semitic by Jewish rights groups.

Tim Willcox was interviewing a French woman and daughter of holocaust survivors, who related fears held by many French Jews that anti-Semitism was reaching levels last witnessed in the 1930s, at which point he inexplicably chose to interrupt her by stating that "many critics though of Israel's policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well."

When his interviewee attempted to respond he appeared to attempt to minimize the crisis felt by French Jews by asking: "you understand everything is seen from different perspectives?"

Willcox was pilloried on social media, and the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism condemned his "disgraceful" comments, urging supporters to complain to the BBC. The Campaign also said it would be submitting a complaint through its legal team, citing a previous instance in which Willcox appeared to promote anti-Semitic stereotypes during another live interview.

On Monday, Willcox took to Twitter to issue a public apology, saying he was "Really sorry for any offence caused by a poorly phrased question in a live interview in Paris yesterday - it was entirely unintentional."

But reactions to his apology have been largely negative, with many suggesting he should make a public, on-air apology.


The Campaign Against Antisemitism also rejected Willcox's "half apology." 

The grassroots activist group says it will continue pursuing its complaint regardless, and has also questioned the lack of reaction from the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body.

Media watchdog groups have also picked up the issue, with Honest Reporting - an outfit which seeks to combat anti-Israel bias in the international media - similarly rejecting the complaint and urging readers to lodge an official complaint with the BBC.

"Tim Willcox must be held accountable for his latest outrageous interview. The BBC must not be allowed to sweep this under the carpet. HonestReporting subscribers must make their voices heard by lodging complaints to the BBC," the group said in a statement.